Rizal Bank opens 2nd branch in Cebu

Rizal Bank, Inc. (RBI), a microfinance-oriented rural bank, opened its second branch in Argao, Cebu City on September 25 to provide wide loan and savings opportunities to the communities covered. The branch is the fourth branch in the Visayas region and the 13th nationwide.

RBI, one of the financial institutions of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), started its operation in Cebu last year. The operations of the bank is focused in south Cebu since another member-institution under CARD MRI is in-charge of the northern part of the metro.

The two branches, according to President and CEO Elma Valenzuela, will cover their operations from Minglanilla to Santander. “Strategically, more micro-banking offices (MBOs) will be established especially in areas where a regular branch is not feasible to be set up,” President and CEO Valenzuela added.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) defined MBOs as “scaled-down offices, which provide a specified range of banking activities and services such as acceptance of micro-deposits, disbursement of micro-loans, selling of microinsurance, purchase of foreign currency, bills payments, government pay-outs, and e-money conversion.”

The birth of RBI

In 2005, CARD MRI started its social development operation in Cebu under the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), Inc. The operations of CARD paved way for the communities in Cebu to avail various community development programs and microfinance services.

“Eventually, we’ve seen how the lives of our clients have been improving. Their respective business, too, need higher amount of capitalization; hence, the need to establish a formal banking system was pressed,” Jocelyn Dequito, CARD, Inc. Executive Director, said in a phone interview.

In 2012, CARD MRI acquired RBI, then the Rizal Rural Bank (Taytay), Inc. Right after its 100% acquisition, microfinance program was implemented immediately using the CARD MRI methodology. Based in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, RBI’s first expansion is within the CALABARZON areas. After a year, RBI became visible in the northern areas of Luzon; and in the Visayas area in 2016.

CARD, Inc. then transitioned its graduate clients in south Cebu to RBI in 2016, which led the establishment of the first branch of the bank in the Visayas region. “85% of CARD, Inc. clients have been transitioned to our RBI Carcar City Branch,” ED Dequito added.

Graduate clients are those who have exceeded the standards of CARD in terms of character performance and business viability.

The continuous expansion, according to President and CEO Valenzuela, is part of CARD MRI’s vision to eradicate poverty in our country.”

RBI way of zeroing poverty

“To holistically achieve our goal of zero poverty, we implemented various financial and non-financial services tailored-fit to the needs of our clients,” President and CEO Valenzuela shared.

Among the financial services are microfinance loans and SME-working capital loans especially for clients who engage in livelihood activities, enterprises, or businesses. These types of loan may be availed at a minimum of Php2,000 to 5 million pesos.

The bank also provides educational, health, and cellphone loans to respond to the other needs of their microfinance clients.

In collaboration with other member institutions under CARD MRI, RBI also offers scholarship program for the children of its clients, links clients to partner health providers for to avail discounts on their medical services, and provides various trainings and capacity-building services.

One family, one graduate

CARD MRI Managing Director Flordeliza Sarmiento emphasized also during her talk at the opening the importance of education in alleviating poverty. “Education, other than the microfinance services we offer, is the best weapon in combatting poverty,” MD Sarmiento said.

In 2016, CARD MRI launched a program called “One Family, One Graduate” to provide education to its millions of clients. The program is an effort to ensure that for every family CARD MRI serves, one will graduate from college, leading to enhanced economic situation of the whole family.

According to CARD MRI Founder and Chairman Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip it has been the institution’s dream that no student will be a school dropout regardless of social standing. “CARD believes in the value of education and its importance in the fulfillment of nation building. Education will lead to employment or entrepreneurship, thus, breaking the cycle of poverty in one’s family,” Dr. Alip added.

5-8-40 strategic direction

In support to the goal of having a financially inclusive country, CARD MRI launched in 2015 its 5-8-40 strategy, which aims to reach eight million Filipinos nationwide and insure at least 40 million individuals in five years.

“To reach more communities, CARD MRI already mapped areas where we can significantly and relevantly extend our microfinance and community-based development programs this year,” MD Sarmiento said.

MD Sarmiento also disclosed that the expansion of CARD MRI is focused on islands, towns, and municipalities where formal banking is limited.

“RBI and the rest of CARD MRI will continue to go beyond borders to achieve a financially inclusive Philippines,” MD Sarmiento concluded.

To date, RBI has more than 20,000 microfinance clients in Cebu and more than 213,000 nationwide. CARD MRI, on the other hand, reaches to more than 4.64 million clients and insures more than 14 million individuals.

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